Basque Cinema Broadens Industrial Base

Variety | 9/23/2019 | Emiliano De Pablos
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SAN SEBASTIAN — Basque cinema is attacking the future with higher industrial and creative expectations than ever, playing off two motors: Co-production with other parts of Spain, international equity partnerships.

Two game-changers in the Basque film landscape, “Handia,” winner of 10 Spanish Academy Goya Awards in 2018, and “Loreak,” Spain’s 2016 Oscar submission, have contributed to consolidate local industry’s self-confidence in recent years.

Resurgence - Basque - Cinema - Production - Outfits

The resurgence of Basque cinema is led by established production outfits such as Irusoin, Moriarti Produkzioak, Txintxua Films, Kowalski Films and Señor y Señora, whose managing boards combine in many cases talented creators and ambitious producers, which has proved a highly advantageous formula.

“There is an artistic and entrepreneurial ambition to make films that can reach the global market,” says Señor y Señora’s Leire Apellaniz, producer of San Sebastian New Directors player “Las letras de Jordi,” by Maider Fernández, and Aritz Moreno’s Sitges contender “Ventajas de viajar en tren.”

Taboos - Road - Times - Creators - Range

Many taboos have been torn down on the road to the new times. “Now, creators have a much richer range of possibilities than in the past, including the option of making movies in Basque-language,” says “Loreak” and “Handia” producer Xabi Berzosa at Moriarti and Irusoin.

Moriarti, Irusoin and Kowalski produced “Handia,” a film directed by Moriarti partners Jon Garaño and Aitor Arregi, which scored the third best tally of Goya Awards ever, proving a true life-inspired period movie in Basque-language could score standout results.

Film - Factory - Entertainment - Handia - Run

Sold by Film Factory Entertainment, “Handia” had a strong run at international festivals circuit. In Spain, distributed by A Contracorriente, snagged a solid €750,000 ($837,000) box office for a Basque-language film, luring audiences mainly from the Basque Country and Navarre.

With just 2,2 million inhabitants in Spain, spread over three provinces – Alava, Biscay and Gipuzkoa – the Basque Country’s home market is too small to support many bigger productions.

“Since the...
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